Menu

A European Super League? It’s a no from me…

“A team died in 1958 to play in Europe, and this is our history being thrown away for money, by owners who know nothing about Manchester.”Ian Sterling of Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST)

On Sunday, rumours were rife about a supposed European Super League and there were 12 European football clubs that were willing to break away from the standard structure of European football. Six clubs in the Premier League were involved; Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Three teams from La Liga in Spain; Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid and three teams from Serie A in Italy; AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. There were also suggestions of three more clubs being involved meaning 15 clubs would start up this new league. However, the figure seems to be stuck at 12.

United beat Burnley 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday but immediately this win was taken away because of this Super League. Former United defender and captain Gary Neville was not please on Sky Sports, showing his displeasure live during the half time break of the match involving his former club. Talk then spread at full time with another former captain and midfielder, Roy Keane airing his displeasure in the breakaway. Former City defender Micah Richards also spoke his mind about this money grab in football – as that is what it really is. The whole suggestion of it is disgusting. It rips the heart and soul out of the game.

The Glazer’s have never really been a great fit at United. They took over the club by leveraging a debt against the club and have continued to take money away from the club in dividends and share sales, giving nothing back from their own pocket. United are still in a substantial debt and this Super League that seems to be propped by by JP Morgan, will put them in more debt, seemingly selling the souls of the club to the greedy so they can take more money off the top, cutting the hard-working supporters out of the game. This is really the ugly side of football. A side that should be kicked out of the game.

Earning money is necessary in life but greedy football club owners are not needed at all.

The funny thing yesterday is that Sky seem to have found a bad taste in the plans for the Super League, climbing up their own Ivory Tower and calling the six Premier League clubs out. I mean, it is not as if Sky have profited massively from this game and they did not set to to do just that from the inception of the Premier League in its inaugural 1992/93 season! Granted, this is a different kind of greed and it will spoil the game for millions of supporters all over the world. The greed of the Glazer’s and their stooge, Ed Woodward has been seen for what it is now and it has played out live during a football match.

Manchester United supporters have a bond with the club. They have supported it for many years, sometimes most of their lives. They have learned the history of the club, the traditions, the success, the failure and the tragedy. This is the embodiment of a supporter of this club. The majority know the trajectory of the club through the years. The blood, sweat and tears put into the club. The survival of bankruptcy and the survival of the club after the Munich Air Disaster which saw eight players die on their way back home from a European Cup match in Belgrade. The history of the club has been upturned and shaken out just to earn more money.

United literally lost the majority of a team to play in a European competition, which later became the UEFA Champions League. For ten years, United fought back from the aches of Munich to lift that blessed trophy in the honour of those that died a decade before. Sir Matt Busby steered United from death to glory to the pinnacle of Europe. In the years following Busby, United stuttered, were relegated and then fought back to reach the top-flight of English football once more. The years later, the success of Sir Alex Ferguson in his near 27-years at the help of the club brought that fighting spirit back once again.

The Glazers are greedy, money-motivated owners that don’t deserve Manchester United.

When Malcolm Glazer took over Manchester United in 2005, a loan was taken out and leveraged against the football club. The Glazer family are clear of debt and for 16 years now, United have been stuck with a massive debt which is no closer to being paid off. Having a debt lowers taxes and that is a must for money-men like the Glazers. The history of this football club is just something they can market and profit from – they don’t care about the blood, sweat and the tears of the players, the supporters and the manager’s throughout the history of the club. They care about the strength of the love for the club, which is now dying in many places.

United have won many trophies during the Glazer’s ownership but that was down to one man; Sir Alex Ferguson. United have won five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup in Ferguson’s time under the Glazers. Post-Ferguson, United have won one FA Community Shield, one League Cup and one UEFA Europa League. The success was not because of the Glazer’s – it was because of the merit of the manager (at the time), the players and the backroom staff. The Glazer’s don’t care about winning things, as has been seen post-Ferguson.

You see, the Glazers and Woodward celebrate impressions on social media, sponsorship deals and other commercial dealings which bring money to the club. More recently, the Glazers have ben celebrating the fact that United’s shares are at a high rate so they can sell some lower category shares to line their pockets some more – as if they have not taken enough already. The formation of this European Super League will create endless revenue streams for the Glazer’s, which is the success that seem to value. Cold hard cash. It will see the club turn its back on its traditions, history and more importantly, the future.

When history and tradition is eradicated from Manchester United, what is left?

Manchester United have a rich history and tradition. The club has always strived to create young players who rise into their first team and drive the team towards success. Granted, that does not always happen but there is a rich picking of youth coming through the ranks throughout the history of the club, winning trophies. Then there are special periods where players either succeeded or were stopped in their tracks by tragedy. The Busby Babes of 1958 were the ones that were stopped by tragedy but the Class of 1992 were the ones that went all the way to becoming the pinnacle of European football once again. On Sir Matt Busby’s birthday too.

United have a record which lasts more than 80 years having included at least one youth player that came through the academy in every league match. If United are no longer allowed to participate in the Premier League, or any other league in the land, that tradition stops right there – and there is a feeling that this tradition would continue for many years to come. United’s academy has some talented players in the ranks but what could happen with them. Surely many of them want to play in the Premier League, the Champions League, aiming to lift the famous trophies one day. What about their dreams? Let them achieve at another club?

You see, the Glazers have profited from the traditions and history of the club and they will presumably continue to do that in this Super League, but they will have ended those traditions and become a smudge in the very history of the club. Money is the route to all evils and that seems to be the very thing the Glazer’s want – money. These American owners don’t see to understand why leagues here have relegation, as they don’t in America. They don’t seen to understand the word competition. To do this would be a sad end to a once great football club. The Glazer’s will be the death of the club and they just don’t care about that.

What is being done to stop this greedy mess from ruining football for the United faithful and others?

It has been reported that FIFA and UEFA are against the formation of a European Super League. There are sanctions that can be brought against the clubs involved, but as sooner as that is said, the clubs can appear these sanctions in court – so there is no way to tell if the sanctions will be upheld or whether the breakaway clubs will win. UEFA has also suggested that clubs would be kicked out of UEFA led competitions; the Champions League, Europa League and the Super Cup. Players of the breakaway clubs could also be banned from playing for their countries in the UEFA European Championships and the FIFA World Cup.

There is a lot to lose for these clubs, all for a glorified friendly competition where a trophy with no history will be presented, plus bags of cash, which is the real prize the clubs are interested in. If these clubs are willing to bring an end to players striving to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, League Cup and qualify for European competition, they will be taking away hopes and dreams of the younger players too. The youth leagues will be affected. I very much doubt that United will be able to participate in the U18 Premier League, the FA Youth Cup, the Premier League 2 and the Papa John’s Trophy. What then? Abolish the youth teams and get rid of identity?

United are a club that has these traditions in the DNA. They largely predicted players from the clubs academy, bringing them to first team standard. The Busby Babes, Fergie’s Fledglings and so on. Then there are the league titles, of which United have 20; 13 Premier League titles and seven First Division titles. This success will mean nothing if the Super League is allowed to start. Money is not really what supporters want to see clubs winning as miscreant owners don’t use that money within the club, they use it one themselves. As Sir Matt Busby one said; “Football is nothing without fans.”.

The Premier League is holding a meeting on Tuesday with the 14 Premier League teams not involved in the Super League. This could result in teams involved in the Super League being suspended from the league, which is the worst case scenario. It is something that needs to be carefully considered though as the league will be severely weakened with these six teams being removed permanently. What a mess this has created.

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Greenwood on the scoresheet as Leicester knock United out of the Emirates FA Cup this season; questions to be answered?

Manchester United were beaten 3-1 by Leicester City in the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup ending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hope of lifting the FA Cup this season. Kelechi Iheanacho scored a brace in the match, opening the scoring and scoring the third goal of the game. Mason Greenwood equalised for United in the 38th minute of the match, giving United a chance of getting something from the match. Youri Tielemans put Leicester back in the lead and it was something that United could not cope with. They now have two weeks with no club football to get over this and the fatigue of the past few weeks with United playing two matches a week the majority of the time. The agendas will be out during that time but the snooze button will be pressed.

United started the match positively after their Italian adventure on Thursday evening which saw them reach the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League. However, Leicester soon got into the game with Jamie Vardy seeking to find an early goal, darting in behind Harry Maguire, looking for Kelechi Iheanacho in the middle but Alex Telles got inn there to clear the danger. The flag was then raised for offside. Leicester then started to gain some traction in the match with United making many sloppy mistakes. Fred was passing poorly and generally playing badly along with a few of his teammates. Leicester opened the scoring in the 24th minute with Iheanacho beating Dean Henderson after Maguire fed Fred the ball and he played it back into the box

United started to go forward to get an equaliser, playing a better brand of football with Mason Greenwood seeing Kasper Schmeichel made a save to deny him, palming the ball away. Minutes later, Maguire was booked for a challenge, which seemed a bit of a tough card, but not my decision to call. Leicester then tried to get forward again with Marc Albrighton playing the ball to the edge of the box which was eventually blocked. United got their equaliser, though Greenwood in the 38th minute of the match after Pogba beat his man, played the ball into Donny van de Beek, who stepped over the ball with Greenwood beating Schmeichel to put United level in the match. It was a good goal for the forward, his first for the club since January.

There was a few chances towards the end of the half and two minutes of added time were played. At the start of the second half, there were no changes made by either manager with the winner of this match facing Southampton in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, which will be played on either Saturday 17 April or Sunday 18 April 2021. United conceded a second goal to Leicester in the 52nd minute of the match with Youri Tielemans beating Henderson with the United goalkeeper unable to get a glove on the ball. Iheanacho got the assist for Leicester’s goal, which meant United would need to do a lot more to get level again, then seek the winner in this match. Solskjaer will not be all that impressed in what he has seen from his players.

United seemed determined to get back in the game, getting forward but not finding many chances. United won a corner, which was taken by Alex Telles, and came to nothing with Solskjaer readying four substitutions. They were made in the 64th minute with Luke Shaw replacing Telles, Scott McTominay replacing Pogba, Bruno Fernandes replacing Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani replacing Van de Beek. Albrighton became the first Leicester player to be booked in the 69th minute of the match for time wasting. Three minutes later, McTominay was booked for a challenge on Ayoze Perez, which seemed a harsh booking for the United player. United would need to dig deep and get something from this match, otherwise their FA Cup pursuit would be over.

Leicester scored a third goal which Iheanacho headed in, beating Henderson at the far post from Albrighton’s free-kick, which was misjudged by McTominay. It was such a poor goal for United to give away, they seem unable to deal with set pieces, which asks many questions of the players on the pitch and the coaches. This United side have been unlocked by Leicester too many times, which leaves the home side on top and cruising to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, giving United a free weekend in April, which might not be all that bad. Solskjaer made his final change in the 84th minute of the match with Amad Diallo replacing Fred, who did not have the best of appearances and will raise many questions about United’s midfield.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Conceded in the 24th minute, which was not his fault. Fred passed the ball back and Iheanacho pounced on it. Played a vocal role in inspiring United to get forward from conceding the goal. Conceded another in the 52nd minute with Tielemans scoring. Beaten a third time with Iheanacho heading at the far post.

12345

29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

He was busy in his defensive role and got forward a few times, despite no real influence coming from him. It has been a long season and it will only get tougher. United will need a backup player in this position.

12345

2 Victor Lindelof

The better of the two central defenders. Performed greatly on Thursday in Milan but today was not United's day.

12345

5 Harry Maguire

Was partly responsible for Leicester's goal in the 24th minute by playing the ball to Fred, who played it back into the box and Iheanacho pounced on it to beat Henderson. Will be annoyed with not keeping a clean sheet today. Vardy got the better of him at one stage but hit his shot off target. Not the greatest match for him or United.

12345

27 Alex Telles

He got froward a lot of the time he was on the pitch and tried to make an impact but he's not in the same form as Shaw. His determination is a good sign. His last kick was a free-kick, which was overhit and went out for a goal kick. He was replaced by Shaw in the 64th minute of the match.

12345

31 Nemanja Matic

As experienced as he is, his level of impact in this match was low. I understand why he started but it was not the right match for him. United need a defensive upgrade in the midfield. He was replaced by Fernandes in the 64th minute of the match.

12345

17 Fred

Did not have the best of starts against Leicester and was culpable in Iheanacho's goal in the 24th minute after Magure played the ball out to him and he played it back.

12345

11 Mason Greenwood

Equalised for United in the 38th minute of the match after Pogba played the ball into Van de Beek, whose dummy allowed the ball to find Greenwood to level the scoreline before the end of the first half.

12345

34 Donny van de Beek

His dummy to allow the ball to meet Greenwood was a great showing of his ability. His impact in the match had not been great, but he's hardly played this season, lately due to injury, so he will need to gain momentum. He was replaced by Cavani in the 64th minute of the match.

12345

6 Paul Pogba

Had some impact in the game and there were some worries that his ankle had been injured again, but he recovered form the challenge. He gave his all on the pitch but United needed to make some changes. He was replaced by McTominay in the 64th minute of the match.

12345

9 Anthony Martial

He was isolated up top and United's lack of creation left him seeking the scraps to no avail. Perhaps his form will raise after the International break, which could be said for United as a whole.

12345

Substitutes

23 Luke Shaw

Replaced Telles 64'. United's pressure on the attack was poor after his introduction, so he was not able to get much involvement in the match.

12345

39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Pogba 64'. Misjudged a head on the far post which saw Iheanacho score his second goal, putting Leicester 3-1 up.

12345

18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Matic 64'. Came close with a free-kick. Perhaps he should have started but fatigue has been showing.

12345

21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Van de Beek 64'. Good to see him back with Martial's form questionable. United could not inspire a comeback from 2-1 down though.

12345

16 Amad Diallo

Replaced Fred 84'. Had a cameo appearances. Not really enough time on the pitch to discuss his impact.

12345

Goals: Kelechi Iheanacho 24′, 78′, Youri Tielemans 52′; Mason Greenwood 38′

Assists: Kelechi Iheanacho 52′, Marc Albrighton 78′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 64′); Matic (Fernandes 64′), Fred (Diallo 84′); Greenwood, Van de Beek (Cavani 64′), Pogba (McTominay 64′); Martial

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Williams, Tuanzebe; James

Bookings: Marc Albrighton 69′, Jonny Evans 76′; Harry Maguire 30′, Scott McTominay 72′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Martial, Pogba and Van de Beek start against Leicester in the FA Cup; Fernandes and Cavani on the bench

Manchester United will go head to head with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium this afternoon in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final which will end club football for a two-week period because of the first international break of 2021. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will head to Leicester in good spirits after knocking AC Milan out of the UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 aggregate win on Thursday evening, which sees them face Granada in the quarter-final of the competition. Solskjaer will be seeking to send his team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, after reaching the quarter-final stage in his first season at the club. Brendan Rodgers’ side will also be seeking a victory.

United have faced Leicester twice in the FA Cup in the history of the competition, beating them twice; once in the final in 1963 and the other time in the fifth round in 1976. Of course, the two clubs meet twice a season in the Premier League and are rivals in the top four at this moment in time with just a point between them. Both Solskjaer and Rodgers will relish the break from club football over the next fortnight and this match is a must-win for both manager’s who are looking to guide their teams to a trophy this season. United have a good record of late, undefeated in their last 14 matches, which is good form. Leicester have been beaten twice in their last six matches, but this does not mean it will be an easy match for United.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles;

Matic, Fred;

Greenwood, Van de Beek, Pogba;

Martial

Substitutes:

De Gea; Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Fernandes, Diallo, James, McTominay; Cavani

Leicester City:

Schmeichel;

Fofana, Evans, Soyuncu;

Castagne, Tielemans, Ndidi, Albrighton;

Perez;

Iheanacho, Vardy

Substitutes:

Ward; Amartey, Fuchs, Thomas, Daley-Campbell; Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Leshabella;

United and Leicester have met twice in the history of both clubs in the Emirates FA Cup. United have won both matches; the first being the FA Cup final on the 25 May 1963 with United winning 3-1. Denis Law opened the scoring in the 30th minute with David Herd scoring a brace in the 57th and 85th minutes. Ken Keyworth scored an 80th minute consolation for the Foxes. United then met Leicester in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the 14 February 1976 with United winning 2-1 with Gerry Daly and Lou Macari scoring the goals with Bob Lee getting a consolation for the Foxes. This will be the third time United have met the Foxes in the FA Cup and United will be looking for a third victory in a row.

In their last match at the King Power Stadium, which was played in the Premier League on Boxing Day, it was a 2-2 draw between the two clubs with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring, Harvey Barnes equalising, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead then an Axel Tuanzebe own goal levelled the scoreline again. Last season, on the final day, United beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals which saw United finish in third place in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football with Chelsea finishing in fourth place and Leicester slipping to fifth. The Foxes could get their revenge by knocking United out of the FA Cup this season.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Greenwood, Diallo, Fernandes and James to lead the attack against Leicester? Pogba, Cavani, Martial and Rashford all on the bench?

Manchester United will go head to head with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final which will end club football for a two-week period because of the first international break of 2021. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will head to Leicester in good spirits after knocking AC Milan out of the UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 aggregate win on Thursday evening, which sees them face Granada in the quarter-final of the competition. Solskjaer will be seeking to send his team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, after reaching the quarter-final stage in his first season at the club. Brendan Rodgers’ side will also be seeking a victory.

United have faced Leicester twice in the FA Cup in the history of the competition, beating them twice; once in the final in 1963 and the other time in the fifth round in 1976. Of course, the two clubs meet twice a season in the Premier League and are rivals in the top four at this moment in time with just a point between them. Both Solskjaer and Rodgers will relish the break from club football over the next fortnight and this match is a must-win for both manager’s who are looking to guide their teams to a trophy this season. United have a good record of late, undefeated in their last 14 matches, which is good form. Leicester have been beaten twice in their last six matches, but this does not mean it will be an easy match for United.

How United have faired against Leicester City in the Emirates FA Cup.

United and Leicester have met twice in the history of both clubs in the Emirates FA Cup. United have won both matches; the first being the FA Cup final on the 25 May 1963 with United winning 3-1. Denis Law opened the scoring in the 30th minute with David Herd scoring a brace in the 57th and 85th minutes. Ken Keyworth scored an 80th minute consolation for the Foxes. United then met Leicester in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the 14 February 1976 with United winning 2-1 with Gerry Daly and Lou Macari scoring the goals with Bob Lee getting a consolation for the Foxes. This will be the third time United have met the Foxes in the FA Cup and United will be looking for a third victory in a row.

In their last match at the King Power Stadium, which was played in the Premier League on Boxing Day, it was a 2-2 draw between the two clubs with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring, Harvey Barnes equalising, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead then an Axel Tuanzebe own goal levelled the scoreline again. Last season, on the final day, United beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals which saw United finish in third place in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football with Chelsea finishing in fourth place and Leicester slipping to fifth. The Foxes could get their revenge by knocking United out of the FA Cup this season.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Leicester City in the Emirates FA Cup at the King Power Stadium on Sunday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Having started the last five matches in all competitions, there is no reason why he should not keep his place against Leicester. Dean Henderson has kept four clean sheets in those five matches with United beating Manchester City, West Ham United and AC Milan, drawing the other two matches; AC Milan and Crystal Palace – conceding his only goal in the five matches against Milan in the first leg at Old Trafford. David De Gea may not be fully match fit for this match, having sat out the matches due to the birth of his daughter some weeks ago. United should stick with the 24-year-old, who has done some great things for United and that clean sheet on Thursday night in Milan is a great feat for him.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence has done well recently, keeping five clean sheets in their last six matches. Eric Bailly is a doubt for this match so Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will probably partner each other in the centre of defence once again with Solskjaer having Axel Tuanzebe to factor into the squad, if he needs to. In the fullback places, for me, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should keep their places. Shaw is having a great season at United and it is great to see, following his injury hit start to his career at the club. It is imperative that he keeps his form, which is consistent to United’s results at this time.

Midfield: Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay

I would like to see Paul Pogba start for United this weekend but Solskjaer suggested that he might not be ready for 90 minutes of action. That said, Donny van de Beek should be starting as he will have 90 minutes in him based on sparingly starting for United so far in his debut season at the club. Scott McTominay should feature alongside him, which could create an attacking midfield with McTominay needing to be on top of his defensive work. If Pogba could start, or came on in the match, playing in the advanced role that is occupied by Bruno Fernandes would be a wise decision with the Portuguese magnifico clearly suffering from fatigue. United need to keep their best players fit at this stage of the season or it could all fall apart.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James

It may not be ideal to start Amad Diallo in such an important match but I believe that he has it inn him to shine ons this stage. He changed the game after just five minutes on the pitch against Milan at Old Trafford and has not been used since – so his fitness is not an issue. Daniel James should play on the left flank in place of Marcus Rashford, if he is not fit enough to feature for United. He played on Thursday evening, but a mixture of injury and fatigue has led to him being in poor form right now. Bruno Fernandes will probably start, although if Paul Pogba can, perhaps he should be utilised instead, keeping Fernandes fresh for after the international break as you can see he is fatigued and should not be burned out.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood might be the only attacking player with experience of leading the line on Sunday. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani are all doubts for this match, which will lead United with a big task on their hands. Greenwood is a talented player but it has not worked for his this season with just four goals and five assists to his name, which is a big drop from what he achieved last season. If Cavani or Martial is fit, they will probably start ahead of him, or at least be on the bench to add something later in the match if that is what United need. It is not ideal at this time, but it is something that United and Solskjaer will need to get through and persevere.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic; Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Solskjaer will be able to name nine substitutes on the bench against Leicester, utilising five of them in the Emirates FA Cup, using a sixth of the tie goes to extra time. The strength of the bench will bank on whether key players are ready to return from injury. In case they are, they have been added to the bench – but this is the best case scenario. David De Gea will be on the bench again, giving Henderson another chance to shine. In defence, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe will be available. In midfield, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic could be called upon with the injured trio of Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford on the bench in the attacking positions, should all of them be fit to take part in this match, which is needed.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Solskjaer’s quest for a trophy could take a hit against Leicester unless United’s fortunes start to change

Leicester City -v- Manchester United

Emirates FA Cup

King Power Stadium, Leicester

Sunday 21 March 2021, KO 17:00 GMT

Referee: Craig Pawson Assistants: Simon Bennett, Harry Lennard

Fourth Official: Darren England

VAR: Stuart Attwell Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes

Manchester United will go head to head with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final which will end club football for a two-week period because of the first international break of 2021. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will head to Leicester in good spirits after knocking AC Milan out of the UEFA Europa League after a 2-1 aggregate win on Thursday evening, which sees them face Granada in the quarter-final of the competition. Solskjaer will be seeking to send his team to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second year running, after reaching the quarter-final stage in his first season at the club. Brendan Rodgers’ side will also be seeking a victory.

United have faced Leicester twice in the FA Cup in the history of the competition, beating them twice; once in the final in 1963 and the other time in the fifth round in 1976. Of course, the two clubs meet twice a season in the Premier League and are rivals in the top four at this moment in time with just a point between them. Both Solskjaer and Rodgers will relish the break from club football over the next fortnight and this match is a must-win for both manager’s who are looking to guide their teams to a trophy this season. United have a good record of late, undefeated in their last 14 matches, which is good form. Leicester have been beaten twice in their last six matches, but this does not mean it will be an easy match for United.

Manchester United: WWDWDD

AC Milan 1-0 W, West Ham United 1-0 W, AC Milan 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Chelsea 0-0 D

Leicester City: WWDLLW

Sheffield United 5-0 W, Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 W, Burnley 1-1 D, Arsenal 3-1 L, Slavia Praha 2-0 L, Aston Villa 2-1 W

Top Scorers: United have scored 89 goals so far this season in all competitions with Leicester scoring 71. Are Uninted’s big guns going to be scoring at the King Power Stadium again this season?

Manchester United Goals: 23 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Daniel James, Paul Pogba, 4 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Own Goal, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

United are undefeated in their last 14 matches in all competitions; the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United was their last loss 15 matches ago. In their last six matches, United have won three and drawn three, scoring five goals and conceding once, keeping five clean sheets, which shows defensive consistency – something that Solskjaer and his side should be proud of. United earned a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, beating AC Milan 1-0, 2-1 on aggregate setting up a tie with Granada, which is a good draw for United, although they tend to struggle against the teams they should be beating easily. Solskjaer will be seeking a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup, beating Leicester at the King Power for the second time this season.

Leicester City Goals: 14 – Jamie Vardy, 13 – Harvey Barnes, 11 – James Maddison, 10 – Kelechi Iheanacho, 7 – Youri Tielemans, 3 – James Justin, Ayoze Pérez, 2 – Dennis Praet, Cengiz Ünder, 1 – Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey, Timothy Castagne, Hamza Choudhury, Wilfred Ndidi, Luke Thomas

Leicester are not in the best form at this stage of the season, despite challenge United for a second-placed Finnish in the Premier League. In their last six matches, they have won three, draw one and lost twice – scoring 11 goals, conceding eight and keeping one clean sheet, which shows that United, if in form up front, could get at least two goals like they did in their last two visits to the King Power Stadium. Rodgers will be seeking a victory though, earning a semi-final place in the Emirates FA Cup, aiming to win their first trophy since the 2015/16 season when they won the league and lifting the FA Cup for the first time since 1968/69 season. It has been a long time since Leicester won this trophy so they will be the team to beat this weekend.

Team News: Jones and Mata out for United with Morgan, Justin and Barnes missing for Leicester. Both teams are sweating on the fitness of players ahead of Sunday’s clash.

Phil Jones (knee) and Juan Mata (other) have already been ruled out for United, so they will not take part in the FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City. Marcus Rashford (other) has a 75% chance of featuring for United this weekend with Eric Bailly (knock), Anthony Martial (hip) and Edinson Cavani (other) all having a 50% chance of being available. Solskjaer has not suggested that either Martial or Cavani will be out of action this weekend, but has given the indication that they might be. Paul Pogba returned from injury against AC Milan on Thursday, scoring the only goal of the game to put United into the quarter-final of the UEFA Europa League. Solskjaer does not think he could start but has left me wondering whether he will.

Wes Morgan (lower back), James Justin (knee) and Harvey Barnes (knee) have all been ruled out for Leicester, so will play no part in the FA Cup quarter final against United. Sidnei Tavares (illness) and Dennis Praet (thigh) seem to have recovered from their ailments, so will be available. However, Ricardo Pereira is a doubt, having a 75% chance of featuring whilst Cengiz Under (thigh) and James Maddison (groin/hip) both have a 25% chance of featuring. It gives Brendan Rodgers’ side some injury problems ahead of the visit of United in what will be seen as an important match for both clubs, who will be seeking to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup this season, vying for a place in the final.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer could have his card hidden up his sleeve this weekend with injured players still having a chance to return to fitness after midweek break.

Solskjaer could play a masterstroke this weekend in the final match before a two-week international break. Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial did not travel to Milan for Thursday’s victory with the Uruguayan pulling up after the second training session on Wednesday and therefore ruled out of the match. There is hope that he could be fit, but just in case, I have set up a team without him and Martial in the starting XI. With Marcus Rashford’s injury problems continuing, he could be a doubt too, leaguing United light in terms of attacking players, unless all three are able to feature. If those that have been called up for international durst could not feature for their countries, two weeks out of action would not be the end of the world, would it. United > Internationals.

Match Prediction: United and Leicester have met twice in the Emirates FA Cup with United winning twice, scoring five goals and conceding two. Can United make it three FA Cup victories in a row against Leicester?

United and Leicester have met twice in the history of both clubs in the Emirates FA Cup. United have won both matches; the first being the FA Cup final on the 25 May 1963 with United winning 3-1. Denis Law opened the scoring in the 30th minute with David Herd scoring a brace in the 57th and 85th minutes. Ken Keyworth scored an 80th minute consolation for the Foxes. United then met Leicester in the fifth round of the FA Cup on the 14 February 1976 with United winning 2-1 with Gerry Daly and Lou Macari scoring the goals with Bob Lee getting a consolation for the Foxes. This will be the third time United have met the Foxes in the FA Cup and United will be looking for a third victory in a row.

In their last match at the King Power Stadium, which was played in the Premier League on Boxing Day, it was a 2-2 draw between the two clubs with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring, Harvey Barnes equalising, Bruno Fernandes restoring United’s lead then an Axel Tuanzebe own goal levelled the scoreline again. Last season, on the final day, United beat Leicester 2-0 at the King Power Stadium with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals which saw United finish in third place in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football with Chelsea finishing in fourth place and Leicester slipping to fifth. The Foxes could get their revenge by knocking United out of the FA Cup this season.

Leicester City 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: McTominay the man to lead United to the quarter-finals; the Hammers played poor defensive football and United needed inspiration

Manchester United beat West Ham United 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening. It took extra time for United to find the after the Hammers seemingly played for a point in a game that would never see it happen. To play this defensive in a cup match was poor. Victor Lindelof had the best chance of normal time seeing Lukasz Fabianski save his effort in the first half. Mason Greenwood played well and Marcus Rashford missed an easy effort once again, seemingly needing to make things simple again. Scott McTominay opened the scoring seven minutes into the first half of extra time. United will find out who they face in the quarter-final draw which will take place on Thursday evening.

It was a pretty uneventful first half for United against the Hammers. United had the majority of the ball (69.4%). United had eight shots on goal, just one of those on target which was from Victor Lindelof and saved by Fabianski. Mason Greenwood looked in the tone at times, as did Alex Telles, who played well in his first appearance for a while. If United were to make it to the quarter-final of the FA Cup this season, they would need to find some improvement. I felt that the Hammers were playing the game to win a point, which was never going to happen, this being a knockout cup competition. Perhaps the second half would show a better brand and style of football from both teams?

At the start of the second half, United started well but found the Hammers defending well and in numbers. Minutes later, West Ham started to break forward and seemed to be showing the right signs and were asking questions of this United side. Solskjaer will need to make a change or too soon to give United a chance to get something from this match. United made a double substitution in the 73rd minute of the match with Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay replacing Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic. Edinson Cavani then replaced Mason Greenwood. It was a dire second half, worse than the first half. United had five more shots, one of which was on target. They ended the 90 minutes with 64% possession and entered extra time.

At the start of extra time, Solskjaer made another double substitution with Brandon Williams and Luke Shaw replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles. United took the lead with the first goal of the game in the 97th minute of the match. Anthony Martial led the counter before Fred found the ball on the overlap. His lofted cross was deflected away to Marcus Rashford who laid the ball off to Scott McTominay, whose run was almost perfect to the edge of the box, burying his shot inside the near post. It is a shame that it took this long for a goal to be score. Many will praise the Hammers, whose zero shots on target to this point showed how much they wanted to win this match.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Will be happy with his fifth clean sheet for United in his 11th appearance for the club. He was not really tested and had one shot on target, which he gathered easily. It was good to see him back in the team. Perhaps he will play again this weekend?

12345

29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Played well against the Hammers, despite being largely frustrated with the way Moyes' side played the game. He was replaced by Williams just before the start of extra time.

12345

2 Victor Lindelof

Did what he needed to do defensively. He could have scored the first goal of the match, which was saved by Fabianski. It was not the best game for United but the Hammers defended deep and it was a poor brand of football.

12345

5 Harry Maguire

The BBC game hit the Man of the Match award. He played well in defence but United were not tested by the Hammers, having one shot on target and that came late in extra time. He led his side well and did what he needed to do, which was good to see. Someone will find something to be unhappy about him though!

12345

27 Alex Telles

Played well and had a fair few chances in the first half, showing his ability to break forward as well as defend. The Hammers were poor during the entire 90 minutes and did not pressure the Brazilian. He was replaced by Shaw at the start of extra time.

12345

31 Nemanja Matic

Did well for United and offered something to shield the defence, not that the Hammers had many clear-cut chances to win the game. It seems at times that they were playing for a point, which was never going to happen in a cup match.

12345

17 Fred

Resurgent in midfield. Kept running and helping his team break forward and ward off the Hammers, who did not have a single shot on target in normal time. Good to see him get more game time and he will surely get more this season.

12345

11 Mason Greenwood

Showed glimpses of his ability throughout the match but not enough to break down this defensive Hammers side. He will be pleased to have another chance to announce himself this season. He was replaced by Cavani in the 86th minute of the match.

12345

34 Donny van de Beek

It was good to see him start but to expect much from his was too much. He's hardly played this season and will be rusty, needing a run of matches to find some sort of form. Hopefully, with Pogba on the sidelines for a few weeks, he will get his chance.

12345

10 Marcus Rashford

I think he needs to start playing a simple game. He is missing the easiest of chances and it is frustrating to watch. He looked to have injured his back at a point, but the initial worries were forgotten as he recovered from the knock. Not the greatest game for the player who made his 250th appearance for the club tonight.

12345

9 Anthony Martial

Made his 250th appearance for the club tonight, just like Rashford. He played well at times, despite seeing United unable to breakdown this defensive Hammers side, which is an embarrassment to football. Why defend so well in a game that not scoring will see you knocked out.

12345

Substitutes

18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Van de Beek 73'. United needed some inspiration and it did not happen instantly for United. They did get their goal but Fernandes was not the goalscorer.

12345

39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Matic 73'. Won the game for United with his sublime finish. It was good to see him score his seventh goal of the season for his club. Maybe those who constantly slate him with start to place some respect on his name?

12345

21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Greenwood 86'. He's got to be United's best forward at the club this season, but even he could not find a way to find a goal awaits the Hammers, who defended for two hours, which was pointless.

12345

33 Brandon Williams

Replaced Wan-Bissaka 90'. Came on at the start of extra time, giving Wan-Bissaka a break after a hard-fought 90 minutes. He did what he needed to do and United got the win, which was important.

12345

23 Luke Shaw

Replaced Telles 90'. Came on at the start of extra time to replace Telles, who played a good game and had a fair few chances. Shaw has been in great form for the past month or so and that continued as United got the goal they needed to win the match.

12345

Goals: Scott McTominay 97′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 97′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 90′), Lindelof, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 90′); Matic (McTominay 73′), Fred; Greenwood (Cavani 86′), Van de Beek (Fernandes 73′), Rashford; Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Tuanzebe; Diallo, James

Bookings: N/A

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Martial, Rashford, Greenwood and Van de Beek start against the Hammers; Diallo on the bench

Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup this evening. This will be the thirteenth time that United and the Hammers have been drawn against each other in England’s oldest domestic trophy. Both United and the Hammers are in good form with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United scoring 12 goals in their last two matches and David Moyes’ Hammers coming back from a defeat to Liverpool to beat Aston Villa during the week, which saw loanee Jesse Lingard score a brace to help win the match. A draw with Fulham put them on a similar path to United, who also had a win and a draw in their last two matches. This will be a fight of the fittest and the hungriest team will reach the quarter-final stage.

Lingard is not eligible to face United in the FA Cup as he featured against Watford in the third round of the competition earlier this season, so is cup-tied. If he had not played, he could have featured against United should their have no nothing stated in the contract forbidding that. United will be eager to get back to winning ways after having victory over Everton snatched from their grasp at the death on Saturday evening, which made the 3-3 draw feel like a defeat. Solskjaer will need to work with his players in the days ahead to find the problems and hope that they can be solved before kick off at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. United will be seeking to put their semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season behind them and aim to win the cup this season.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles;

Matic, Fred;

Greenwood, Van de Beek, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Grant; Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Fernandes, Diallo, James, McTominay; Cavani

West Ham United:

Fabianski;

Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell;

Soucek, Noble, Rice;

Bowen, Yarmolenko, Fornals

Substitutes:

Trott; Balbuena, Alves, Diop, Fredericks, Johnson; Lanzini; Benrahma, Odubeko

United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the history of the Emirates FA Cup. United have won five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored a total of 21 goals, conceding 15. United have kept four clean sheets with the Hammers keeping two. United have lost just two of their matches against the Hammers in the FA Cup at Old Trafford – the last time being just over 20 years ago; a 1-0 victory for the Hammers in which Paulo Di Canio scored the only goal of the match. Prior to that, the other defeat at Old Trafford was in 1986 before Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club. Ray Stewart and Geoff Pike scored the goals for the Hammers back then.

United last faced the Hammers in the FA Cup back on the 13 April 2016 at Upton Park in the sixth round replay after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford a month prior. Dimitri Payet scored the opening goal in the draw with Anthony Martial equalising in the 83rd minute. At Upton Park, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scoring for United and James Tomkins getting a consolation for the Hammers. That season, under the management of Louis van Gaal, United went on to win the FA Cup, beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley in the semi-final and then beating Crystal Palace 2-1, after extra time, in the final. It was the first major honour for United after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three years prior.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Cavani, Rashford, Fernandes and Greenwood in attack? Van de Beek and McTominay in midfield? Henderson in goal?

Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening. This will be the thirteenth time that United and the Hammers have been drawn against each other in England’s oldest domestic trophy. Both United and the Hammers are in good form with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United scoring 12 goals in their last two matches and David Moyes’ Hammers coming back from a defeat to Liverpool to beat Aston Villa during the week, which saw loanee Jesse Lingard score a brace to help win the match. A draw with Fulham put them on a similar path to United, who also had a win and a draw in their last two matches. This will be a fight of the fittest and the hungriest team will reach the quarter-final stage.

Lingard is not eligible to face United in the FA Cup as he featured against Watford in the third round of the competition earlier this season, so is cup-tied. If he had not played, he could have featured against United should their have no nothing stated in the contract forbidding that. United will be eager to get back to winning ways after having victory over Everton snatched from their grasp at the death on Saturday evening, which made the 3-3 draw feel like a defeat. Solskjaer will need to work with his players in the days ahead to find the problems and hope that they can be solved before kick off at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. United will be seeking to put their semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season behind them and aim to win the cup this season.

How United have faired against West Ham United in the Emirates FA Cup.

United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the history of the Emirates FA Cup. United have won five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored a total of 21 goals, conceding 15. United have kept four clean sheets with the Hammers keeping two. United have lost just two of their matches against the Hammers in the FA Cup at Old Trafford – the last time being just over 20 years ago; a 1-0 victory for the Hammers in which Paulo Di Canio scored the only goal of the match. Prior to that, the other defeat at Old Trafford was in 1986 before Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club. Ray Stewart and Geoff Pike scored the goals for the Hammers back then.

United last faced the Hammers in the FA Cup back on the 13 April 2016 at Upton Park in the sixth round replay after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford a month prior. Dimitri Payet scored the opening goal in the draw with Anthony Martial equalising in the 83rd minute. At Upton Park, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scoring for United and James Tomkins getting a consolation for the Hammers. That season, under the management of Louis van Gaal, United went on to win the FA Cup, beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley in the semi-final and then beating Crystal Palace 2-1, after extra time, in the final. It was the first major honour for United after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three years prior.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Ham United in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson should start against West Ham United on Tuesday evening. David De Gea’s form is starting to pose similar questions as it did ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea last season. United lost that match because of errors caused by the goalkeeper. Henderson has the talent to succeed at the club and perhaps he should be given the chance, which might help De Gea work in the background to rediscover his form once again. Henderson played twice against the Hammers last season, drawing 1-1, conceding a goal scored by Robert Snodgrass, at the London Stadium, helping his side win 1-0 at Bramall Lane. Henderson is a confident player and has played most of his football in cup competitions this season, so should be involved once again.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United conceded three goals against Everton at the weekend and they will need to keep the Hammers at bay. Earlier this season, David Moyes’ side opened the scoring at the London Stadium with United having to come from behind, which they did, winning the match 3-1. Eric Bailly has a small chance of featuring for United at the moment which means Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw will probably start once again. Wan-Bissaka and Shaw have both performed well of late with the main problems seemingly in the centre of defence. Solving that problem and returning to winning ways is necessary for United to prevail this season. They have as good a chance as any to win the Emirates FA Cup this season.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek

Paul Pogba looks set to be on the sidelines for an unknown period fo time after suffering from a thigh injury against Everton at the weekend. With this in mind, Solskjaer should probably give Donny van de Beek a chance to start for United, seeing if he can fill the void Pogba will leave after his period of form over the past month or so. Scott McTominay should partner him as he is also in some good form at this stage of the season, scoring his sixth goal of the season against Everton, scoring twice in his last two matches. The midfield is an area that has many talented players to pick. Fred played well against Everton, but on this occasion, he should be on the bench to add something later on in the game, if he is needed.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

Bruno Fernandes scored his 18th goal of the season against Everton at the weekend and it should be a goal of the month contender for February and possibly in the list for potential goals of the season. He really has turned this United team into something to be contended with. He has bags of talent and despite a handful of poor performances, he always seems to find something out of nothing to make things so much better, which was the case for his goal which put United 2-0 up just before half time against the Toffees. Marcus Rashford has bagged 16 goals so far this season but at times his decision-making needs to see some improvement, as well as his finishing. Mason Greenwood played a good game at the weekend and should keep his place in the team.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani is everything that is needed in a Manchester United striker. He knows how to position himself, where to find the goals and his headers into the back of the net are something that has been missing at the club for a few years now. Cavani will turn 34 next Sunday but the form he is in makes his age just a number – nothing more. Anthony Martial bagged two goals against Southampton earlier in the week as United ran riot, winning 9-0 but he was unused against Everton, which might be telling with regards to his overall form this season. Of course, he might start against the Hammers but it seems to be working the way it is for United right now so if it is not broken, why should it be fixed. Martial might be able to come on late in the game to add something.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Fred, Amad Diallo, Daniel James; Anthony Martial

Nine substitutes will be able to be named one the bench, the same for the Premier League and the Carabao Cup but in the Emirates FA Cup, up to five substitutions are able to be made in three different periods (not including the half time break) throughout the match. If extra time is needed, a sixth substitution could be used. David De Gea should be on the bench for this match after his form deteriorated against Everton. In defence, Eric Bailly will hopefully be fit to play a part, however small, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams could add to the fullback areas, should a change be needed. In midfield, Juan Mata, Fred and Daniel James could be involved with Amad Diallo on the bench if Solskjaer feels the timing is right. In attack, Anthony Martial should be available as the only attacking player on the bench.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Edinson Cavani to lead United’s attack against West Ham in the Emirates FA Cup? Henderson to start ahead of De Gea?

Manchester United -v- West Ham United

Emirates FA Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 9 February 2021, KO 19:30 GMT

Referee: Paul Tierney Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis and Ian Hussin

Fourth Official: Lee Mason

VAR: Craig Pawson Assistant VAR: Richard West

Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening. This will be the thirteenth time that United and the Hammers have been drawn against each other in England’s oldest domestic trophy. Both United and the Hammers are in good form with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United scoring 12 goals in their last two matches and David Moyes’ Hammers coming back from a defeat to Liverpool to beat Aston Villa during the week, which saw loanee Jesse Lingard score a brace to help win the match. A draw with Fulham put them on a similar path to United, who also had a win and a draw in their last two matches. This will be a fight of the fittest and the hungriest team will reach the quarter-final stage.

Lingard is not eligible to face United in the FA Cup as he featured against Watford in the third round of the competition earlier this season, so is cup-tied. If he had not played, he could have featured against United should their have no nothing stated in the contract forbidding that. United will be eager to get back to winning ways after having victory over Everton snatched from their grasp at the death on Saturday evening, which made the 3-3 draw feel like a defeat. Solskjaer will need to work with his players in the days ahead to find the problems and hope that they can be solved before kick off at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. United will be seeking to put their semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season behind them and aim to win the cup this season.

Manchester United: DWDLWW

Everton 3-3 D, Southampton 9-0 W, Arsenal 0-0 D, Sheffield United 1-2 L, Liverpool 3-2 W, Fulham 2-1 W

West Ham United: DWLWWW

Fulham 0-0 D, Aston Villa 3-1 W, Liverpool 3-1 L, Crystal Palace 3-2 W, Doncaster Rovers 4-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-1 W

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes (18), Marcus Rashford (16), Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial (7) have outscored West Ham United so far this season. The Hammers have scored a total of 45 goals in all competitions. United have scored 75 goals so far this season.

Manchester United Goals: 18 – Bruno Fernandes, 16 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, 6 – Scott McTominay, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 3 – Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Own Goal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Donny van de Beek

Over the past six matches, United have won three times, draw twice and lost once. Solskjaer’s side have scored 18 goals, conceding eight and keeping two clean sheets. Twelve of the goals have been scored in the last two matches with United beating Southampton 9-0 and drawing 3-3 with Everton, which saw United go 2-0 up, with Everton coming back to 2-2 in seven second half minutes with United taking the lead once again, only to suffer a draw at the very death of the match. United’s defence needs some improvement and in goal, David De Gea will need to face his demons and find the root cause of his problems with confidence and a lacking ability to go out and grab the ball, rather than welcome the shot, which tends to be a mistake.

West Ham United Goals: 8 – Tomas Soucek, 7 – Sébastien Haller, 5 – Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, 3 – Craig Dawson, Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko, 2 – Jesse Lingard, Angelo Ogbonna, Robert Snodgrass, 1 – Oladapo Afolayan, Felipe Anderson, Fabián Balbuena, Ben Johnson, Manuel Lanzini

Over the past six matches, the Hammers have won four times, draw once and lost once. Moyes’ side have scored 13 goals, conceding seven and keeping two clean sheets. Moyes has the Hammers playing well this season and at the time of writing, the club were fifth in the Premier League, which is a good position for them to be in at this stage of the season. United have beaten the Hammers already this season, winning 3-1 at the London Stadium at the start of December. Tomas Soucek scored the opening goal for this club but Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford scored to give all three points to United, keeping their away record in the league unbeaten this season.

Team News: Phil Jones and Paul Pogba to miss the Hammers clash with Eric Bailly having a 25% chance of featuring. David Moyes to be without Arthur Masuaku and maybe even Darren Randolph. Tomas Soucek red card might also keep him out of action, unless the club wins their appeal. Jesse Lingard is cup-tied so cannot feature against United.

Phil Jones (knee) and Paul Pogba (thigh) have both been ruled out of the clash with West Ham United in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening. Eric Bailly (knock) currently has a 25% chance of featuring against David Moyes’ side. Pogba’s injury looks like a tough one which could see the player on the sidelines for a number of weeks, but there severity of it has not yet been discovered so there remains a chance that he could be out for a lesser period of time. Amad Diallo seems to be enjoying his football at U23 level right now and despite the fact many would like to see him make his debut, him enjoying his football at the level he’s currently playing in might be best for him, unless Solskjaer has plans for him soon, which was intimated.

Tomas Soucek (suspended) is currently set to miss the clash with United at Old Trafford after being sent off by Mike Dean in the 0-0 draw with Fulham on Saturday. The red card seems harsh and Aleksandar Mitrović’s reaction was unsportsmanlike to say the least. The Hammers have appealed the red card, so if it is rescinded, he could feature against United. Arthur Masuaku (knee) has been ruled out of the match and Darren Randolph (knock) is currently being assessed and has a 25% chance of being fit to face United. Jesse Lingard is not eligible to play against United as he is cup-tied in the competition, having already played for United in the 1-0 victory over Watford at the start of January.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood to lead the attack against the Hammers; Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay in midfield? Dean Henderson in goal?

Solskjaer will need to look into whether David De Gea has what it takes to lead United into the Emirates FA Cup with a view of making the quarter-finals of the competition this season. Last season, after some poor performances, De Gea cost United in the semi-final against Chelsea with some big glaring errors similar to those against Everton at the weekend. Dean Henderson has played in the cup competitions so far this season, so should be given his chance to feature for United once again. Edinson Cavani is the main striker in this team right now, so should keep his place once again. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood will take the wide places with Bruno Fernandes in behind the striker. Donny van de Beek start with Scott McTominay in midfield.

Match Prediction: United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the Emirates FA Cup with United winning five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored 21 goals, conceding 15.

United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the history of the Emirates FA Cup. United have won five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored a total of 21 goals, conceding 15. United have kept four clean sheets with the Hammers keeping two. United have lost just two of their matches against the Hammers in the FA Cup at Old Trafford – the last time being just over 20 years ago; a 1-0 victory for the Hammers in which Paulo Di Canio scored the only goal of the match. Prior to that, the other defeat at Old Trafford was in 1986 before Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club. Ray Stewart and Geoff Pike scored the goals for the Hammers back then.

United last faced the Hammers in the FA Cup back on the 13 April 2016 at Upton Park in the sixth round replay after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford a month prior. Dimitri Payet scored the opening goal in the draw with Anthony Martial equalising in the 83rd minute. At Upton Park, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scoring for United and James Tomkins getting a consolation for the Hammers. That season, under the management of Louis van Gaal, United went on to win the FA Cup, beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley in the semi-final and then beating Crystal Palace 2-1, after extra time, in the final. It was the first major honour for United after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three years prior.

Manchester United 3-1 West Ham United

Written by John Walker

January Review: Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Paul Pogba all had a good month despite mixed results for United

Manchester United played nine matches in January making it just as busy as December, where the same number of matches were played. United started the month with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in the Premier League, which was a good start to the month. However, a 2-0 defeat in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup at the hands of Manchester City added some disappointment to the month. United then beat Watford 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup, earning a place in the fourth round against Liverpool. Next came a 0-0 draw against Liverpool in the Premier League, a frustrating match for both teams.

United then came from behind to beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League, putting more pressure on Liverpool this season, which would change as the month grew on. The FA Cup clash with Liverpool was a good match for United, resulting in a 3-2 victory, reaching the fifth round of the competition this season. Following that match, a 2-1 defeat to the worst team in the Premier League, Sheffield United came, which was a disappointment for United. The month was ended with a visit to the Emirates to face Arsenal, which resulted in a 0-0 draw, ending the month in a frustrating manner.

January Statistics:

Nine matches played; five wins, two draws and two defeats. 11 Premier League points won, a place in the fourth and fifth rounds of the Emirates FA Cup. 10 goals scored, eight goals conceded – four clean sheets. United entered 2021 in good form and were looking to get through another tough month in domestic competition. They were knockout of the Carabao Cup at the semi-final stage by Manchester City but reached the fourth and the fifth rounds of the Emirates FA Cup with victories over both Watford and Liverpool. In the league, United struggled at times with a defeat to Sheffield United and draws with Liverpool and Arsenal.

1 January – Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa – Premier League

Goals: Anthony Martial 40′, Bruno Fernandes 62′; Bertrand Traore 58′

Assists: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 40′; Jack Grealish 58′

Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1 at Old Trafford in the first Premier League match of 2021. Anthony Martial opened the scoring with a header in the 40th minute of the match (his fifth goal of the season), assisted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Villa then equalised in the 58th minute through Bertrand Traore, assisted by Jack Grealish. Minutes later, Paul Pogba was taken down in the box by Douglas Luiz and a penalty was given which Bruno Fernandes stepped up for, scoring his 15th goal of the season. Villa pressure United at the end of the match with United having chances to extend their lead.

6 January – Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City – Carabao Cup

Goals: John Stones 50′, Fernandinho 83′

Assists: N/A

Manchester United were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford. It was a pretty even first half with United starting well but City soon took control of the match. Both teams had the ball in the back of the net in the first half of the match but none were given. It took City 50 minutes, five minutes into the second half to draw first blood on United with John Stones scoring the first goal of the game. United had chances to get back into the game but did not take them. City doubled their lead through Fernandinho in the 83rd minute, earning a place in the first final of the season. Their go-to trophy.

9 January – Manchester United 1-0 Watford – Emirates FA Cup

Goals: Scott McTominay 5′

Assists: Alex Telles 5′

Manchester United beat Watford 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford. Scott McTominay, who captained United in this match, scored the only goal of the game in the fifth minute, assisted by Alex Telles from the corner. There were a few chances throughout the match but United seemed to be out of sorts, as were the visitors. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be happy to see his club into the fourth round of the FA Cup with the draw for that and the fifth round being drawn on Monday evening. United got back to winning ways after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup earlier in the week. Burnley next in the Premier League.

12 January – Burnley 0-1 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: Paul Pogba 71′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 71′

Manchester United beat Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor in the Premier League. It put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. Paul Pogba scored the only goal of the match after playing the ball out to Marcus Rashford on the right with the England forward playing back to the Frenchman whose effort was slightly deflected into the back of the net. Bruno Fernandes did not have the best of matches, but played a part. Anthony Martial will be a worry, coming off injured late into added time. The positivity is that United are top of the league and deserve it.

17 January – Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: N/A

Assists: N/A

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League. It was a game of few credible chances. Perhaps the best opportunity was from Bruno Fernandes after United won a free-kick in the first half of the match. The ball dipped towards the top far corner, just missing the target and seeing United frustrated. Marcus Rashford had a chance in the second half with Edinson Cavani splitting away from him, Rashford having the ball and the three defensive players and being marked off the ball with Cavani unmarked and in space which could have resulted in the first goal of the game, if he had it.

20 January – Fulham 1-2 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: Ademola Lookman 5′; Edinson Cavani 21′, Paul Pogba 65′

Assists: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa 5′

Manchester United beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League. Ademola Lookman scored the opening goal in the fifth minute as United saw themselves on the back foot from the start of the match. However, it took 16 minutes for United to get back into the match with Bruno Fernandes launching a ferocious shot on goal, hitting the inside of the post only for Fred to keep the attack in play. Edinson Cavani was the equaliser for United, scoring his fifth goal of the season for his club. Paul Pogba scored what turned into the winner for United, with a sublime finish which was good to see.

24 January – Manchester United 3-2 Liverpool – Emirates FA Cup

Goals: Mason Greenwood 26′, Marcus Rashford 48′, Bruno Fernandes 78′; Mohamed Salah 18′, 58′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 26′, Mason Greenwood 48′; Roberto Firmino 18′, 58’

Manchester United beat Liverpool 3-2 in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford. Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in the 18th minute of the match with Mason Greenwood equalising just eight minutes later. Marcus Rashford then put United ahead in the 48th minute with Salah striking once more in the 58th minute to level the score. From the bench, Bruno Fernandes found the winner from a free-kick which was such a great strike to beat Alisson for the third time in the match. This victory feels so good, not for Liverpool though. United will face West Ham United at Old Trafford in the next round.

27 January – Manchester United 1-2 Sheffield United – Premier League

Goals: Harry Maguire 64′; Kean Bryan 23′, Oliver Burke 74′

Assists: Alex Telles 64′; John Fleck 23′, John Lundstram 74′

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Sheffield United at Old Trafford. It was another bad day for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who had been knocked off the top spot in the Premier League table by Manchester City on Tuesday evening. Kean Bryan opened the scoring for the Blades in the 23rd minute of the match with Oliver Burke scoring the winner in the 74th minute of the match. Harry Maguire equalised in the 64th minute of the match but in terms of inspiration, United were not up for the challenge in a dreadful evening at the Theatre of Dreams. United will need to pick up the pieces before get face Arsenal on Saturday.

30 January – Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United – Premier League

Goals: N/A

Assists: N/A

Manchester United drew 0-0 with Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the stronger team with Arsenal suffering with a few injuries. It was a game of few credible chances, something that will unnerve United, who have been playing a poor brand of football in their last two matches, resulting in a defeat and a draw. Arsenal will be the happier of thereto teams, winning four points and keeping two clean sheets against United this season. However, the gap between the two teams is still ten points, so Arsenal have a lot of work ahead of them to close the gap.

Luke Shaw – eight appearances (seven starts), 638 minutes, one MOTM award.

January was an impressive month for Luke Shaw. He made eight appearances, starting seven times, playing 638 minutes in total and winning the Man of the Match award in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League. Whilst it initially looked like Alex Telles would take the left-back role from Shaw earlier in the season, the English left-back has soon risen in stature to make the position his own. It is good to see him in form again, which has been ruined in the past with injury, fatigue and fitness issues. The player seems to have turned a corner at the club, which is great for both the player and the club.

Harry Maguire – nine appearances (eight starts), 765 minutes, one goal.

The Captain has been one of the most important players for the club in January. He made nine appearances, starting eight times, playing all but 45 minutes for the club in January. Harry Maguire played a total of 765 minutes during January, coming off the bench at half time against Watford in the FA Cup. He scored United’s only goal in the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United, a former club of the defender. United kept four clean sheets in January, three of those in the Premier League, which was important for United to continue their improvement, which stuttered at the end of the month.

Paul Pogba – eight appearances (eight starts), 720 minutes, two goals and two MOTM awards.

December was a positive month for Paul Pogba, but January was something he built because of the prior month. The Frenchman missed just one match, the FA Cup victory over Watford. Pogba’s best performances in January came in the Premier League, scoring goals against Burnley and Fulham and being named the Man of the Match in both of those matches. Against Aston Villa at the start of the month, Pogba won a penalty, which Bruno Fernandes scored, enabling the Red Devils to win the match which was a great start for the club in January. Pogba will be seeking to make February a positive month for the club too.

Notable Mentions: Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Scott McTominay

Eric Bailly had a good January, in the matches that he did play in, playing a total of 315 minutes in four appearances during the month and earning one Man of the Match award for his performance against Aston Villa in which United won 2-1. Bailly could be a good partner for Harry Maguire at the club, providing he can stay fit. Alex Telles was another notable mention, making two appearances, playing a total of 172 minutes on the pitch and assisting twice. Scott McTominay was the final notable mention, making eight appearances, playing 453 minutes of football, scoring one goal and winning one Man of the Match award – against Watford.

Who is your Player of the Month for January 2021?

A look at what lies ahead in February…

United will play eight matches in February, one less than in both December and January. United will continue their efforts in the Premier League, facing Southampton (H), Everton (H), West Bromwich Albion (A), Newcastle United (H) and Chelsea (A), also vying to reach the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup, providing they beat West Ham United (H). Solskjaer’s side will also play their first matches in the UEFA Europa League, facing Real Sociedad both away and at home in the round of 32 stage of the competition, hoping to reach the round of 16 stage, following their group stage exit from the UEFA Champions League.

2 February – Southampton, Old Trafford – Premier League

6 February – Everton, Old Trafford – Premier League

9 February – West Ham United, Old Trafford – Emirates FA Cup

14 February – West Bromwich Albion, The Hawthorns – Premier League

18 February – Real Sociedad, Anoeta Stadium – UEFA Europa League

21 February – Newcastle United, Old Trafford – Premier League

25 February – Real Sociedad, Old Trafford – UEFA Europa League

28 February – Chelsea, Stamford Bridge – Premier League

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW